‘New Town Quarter’ – Redevelopment of the Former RBS Site on Dundas Street

As many will be aware, planning applications have been  submitted for redevelopment of the former RBS site on Dundas Street by the agent (Turley) & the architects '10 Design ' on behalf of Ediston – this includes 144’Build to Rent’ (BTR) residential units, 117 private residential units and 88 Mid-Market Rent (MMR) i.e. meeting the 25% ‘affordable units’ requirement  (=349 in total) together with office space,retail / leisure space & a 116 room hotel.

NTBCC is aware that there may be confusion amongst residents as to what applications have been submitted and which applications are open for comment at this time.

The main application covering the redevelopment is 20/03034/FUL but accompanied by an application for  the ‘Complete Demolition in a Conservation Area’ (20/03661/CON) i.e. separate permission is required to demolish non-listed buildings that are within a conservation area (in this case, the New Town Conservation Area). It’s normal for these 2 applications to be determined at the same time. Also worth noting that the original ‘Demolition in a Conservation Area’ application (20/03033/CON)  was withdrawn earlier in August 2020 but then resubmitted as 20/03661/CON.

It had also been rumoured that a 3rd application would be submitted specifically covering the access from the new development into King George V Park. Notification for this now received (20/03655/FUL) – this covers  ‘Formation of Path & Associated Landscaping’ – now with all documents lodged on the Council's Planning portal. It proposes removing 5 trees (2 diseased (classifised as “U” and 3 others (with a limited expected life - between 10 & 20 years) to allow a wide split entrance into King George V Park in the south-west corner, for pedestrians (via steps) & cyclists / ‘wheelers’ by a ramp.

So – to be clear – for the main redevelopment – there are 3 applications lodged : 20/03034/FUL (Redevelopment), 20/03661/CON (for the demolition)  and 20/03655/FUL (detailing the access into KGV Park) – all  with the final  date for comments being 9 October.

NTBCC requested confirmation that it will be considered as a Statutory Consultee & also requested an extension to the period for comments until 16 October – to allow final consideration at October’s NTBCC meeting (& also recognising that there are 400+ documents submitted…..).This has now been confirmed by the Council Planning officer.

As indicated some weeks ago & covered in the Spurtle ('No hotel for Dundas Street development' and confirmed at the September NTBCC meeting – a further application is also being submitted for an alternative option (labelled ‘NTN1’) on part of the New Town Quarter site (designated  as ‘Plot 1’, covering the northern-most section on Dundas Street - from the proposed new accessway from Dundas St. to KGV Park to Eyre Place - i.e the proposed location for the hotel in the scheme  currently open for comment - but omitting the hotel & replacing it with a further 79 residential units. This scheme is subject to a separate Pre-Application consultation (20/03825/PAN) – the consultation process has now been approved. There is a virtual public consultation scheduled for 8 October on the official website (& also separate session for NTBCC as well as local residents’ groups a few days earlier).

However, worth reinforcing that the focus should be on the 3 ‘live’ applications that have been lodged.

There will be an opportunity to comment on the revised scheme ('NTN1')  later in 2020.

 

Brief Highlights from NTBCC’s 10 August Zoom Meeting

A second, very successful, NTBCC meeting using the Zoom platform with members of the public both welcome and involved.  Despite some last minute technical issues (& inability by some NTBCC members to locate the Zoom link-in details!) – we were happy  to record 15 community councillors were present (virtually) – including one of our office bearers  from the back seat of a car many miles from Edinburgh.

Also we all appreciated attendance by 5 ward councillors - many thanks to Councillors Doran, Miller & Mowat from the City centre ward (almost a full house) and also Councillors Osler & Barrie from Inverleith Ward for joining us. Having Councillors present is really helpful in many of the discussions, both to understand current council thinking as well as being able to pick up issues.

As an aside – we also regularly extend an invitation to Leith Walk ward councillors as a significant part of NTBCC’s area lies within Leith Walk ward. They would be very welcome at future community council meetings.

Last, but by no means least, almost a dozen members of the public. And we mustn’t forget the roving Broughton Spurtle editor also joining us from afar.

We would also thank Police Scotland for providing an excellent summary of their activities in the city centre – unprompted by us – much appreciated. Key messages were a continued issue with cycle thefts (incl. Just Eat hire cycles), police checks for Covid-compliance on licensed premises, reported improvements in anti-social behaviour at Waverley Mall with the temporary village now set up and increased focus on speed checks across the city centre.

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Communication from Ediston on ‘confusion over the application process’ for the RBS Site on Dundas Street / Fettes Row

It was announced in the media on 31st July that Ediston (for owners Orion Capital Managers) have submitted a planning application for the ‘New Town Quarter’, the large brownfield site which includes the buildings previously  occupied by RBS at the foot of Dundas Street. The plans are for the site to be redeveloped to include residential (both for sale and 'Build to Rent'), offices and some retail use. In addition, it may include options for a new hotel.

It was intended to discuss these plans at  the New Town & Broughton Community Council's (NTBCC) August meeting and the community council was hoping more details would have been available on the Edinburgh Council Planning portal prior to the meeting. However, we were aware of a rumour circulating  that the application had been withdrawn.

Two separate applications are necessary, one covering the proposed redevelopment of the site and the second, for demolition of the existing buildings - although not listed (unsurprisingly), they reside within the New Town Conservation Area and  as such, permission is required for demolition. It is also worth stating that it is normal practice to assess both of these applications concurrently – as a key factor in the assessment for demolition is what is being proposed to replace it.

The application for 'Complete Demolition in a Conservation Area' application (20/03033/CON) was lodged on 27th July but was showing as having been withdrawn on the Planning portal. No details of the other application details were available on the Planning portal.

NTBCC contacted Ediston to seek clarification as to the situation to share with local residents.  Ross McNulty of Ediston responded promptly and advised

We did confirm previously that the drawings and Design / Access Statement were issued on 24th July but the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) would be issued on 31st August, and that would be the date the application will become live on the portal.

The conservation area consent has been withdrawn, but only so it can be submitted alongside the EIA on the 31st August, as it should run concurrently with the EIA, so all goes live on the portal at the same time.

NTBCC also received a further communication from Ediston on 11th August

I am making contact with you, as I have spoken to you all recently with regards to our application, but I believe there may still be some confusion over the application process and availability of information, therefore I will try to help and make it clear.

On 24th July a full set of drawings and Design and Access Statement was submitted to CEC. This information does not go on the portal as I have explained previously. The Conservation Area Consent was also issued, but it was acknowledged with CEC that it was submitted too early as needs to be lodged at same time as the Environmental Impact Assessment, therefore it was agreed to withdraw it and re-submit on 31st August.

The EIA will be submitted on 31st August as planned, and so will the Conservation Area Consent at which point all information will be available on the portal.

I have always advised that information will only be available on the portal until after the 31st August, which remains the case.

I do hope this is clear and can be communicated appropriately. If you do have any further queries, please let me know.

So, it would seem that expectations of local residents may have been raised prematurely regarding the reports of the applications having been submitted.

It seems to NTBCC that the documents should not have been lodged on the planning portal until all of the necessary documentation was available to view publically (for both the redevelopment application and the demolition of the existing buildings), and withdrawal of 20/03033/CON was both sensible and appropriate.

We look forward to the full suite of planning documents being available for scrutiny on 31st August.

Finally, we suggested to Ediston that it may be helpful if they attended the 14th September  NTBCC meeting to present their proposals and answer any questions that local residents  may have and we are pleased that they accepted this offer.

 

FINAL PRE-APPLICATION CONSULTATION – FORMER RBS SITE

SITE AT FETTES ROW/ DUNDAS STREET/ EYRE TERRACE/ EYRE PLACE, EDINBURGH

In response to the developing coronavirus (COVID-19) situation and associated government guidance, the agents acting on behalf of Ediston and Orion Capital Managers in respect of the redevelopment of the above site announced that the additional public exhibition (the 3rd & final), would be an online exhibition. Information was to have been made available to the public via the New Town North website (www.newtownnorth.co.uk) from midday on 2 April 2020.

However the shift in working procedures resulting from the government’s response to Covid19 caused a delay in the preparation of information for the online exhibition. The information will now be made available from midday on 9 April 2020.

NTBCC understand that the intent is to make the online exhibition as interactive as possible, allowing members of the public direct access to the design team to address specific points and answer questions. Additionally, there will be an opportunity to complete and return a consultation questionnaire online.

We have now been advised that those viewing the online exhibition will also be able to submit questions / points of clarification via links embedded in the online exhibition material between 12pm and 8pm on Thursday 9 April. The project team will then respond to individuals by phone as soon as possible (and within 7 days at the absolute latest), in order to mimic an in-person exhibition as much as possible.

There will also be an opportunity for people to submit an online feedback form in order for them to formally record their comments.

The deadline for submitting comments is Friday 1 May.

The exhibition material will remain available on the website alongside the material from the September and December exhibitions which was made available online after each event.

Planning Application for RBS Site on Dundas Street Withdrawn – NTBCC Thoughts

Many will have already seen that the amended application (16/05454/PPP) for the redevelopment on the former RBS site on Dundas St. / Fettes Row / Royal Crescent etc., and the associated application for demolition of the existing RBS buildings (16/05455/CON) have been withdrawn by the agent, GVA Grimley, representing RBS. The original applications for the main site were first lodged in November 2016 following an extensive Pre-Application consultation through 2015. Following a significant number of objections lodged to the original applications by many local residents, as well as from several statutory consultees including Historic Environment Scotland and NTBCC, an amended proposal was lodged in November 2017. Although this was an improvement, several key concerns remained, which resulted in further objections being submitted.

After a long period of “no news” from late January 2018, the unexpected and perhaps surprising request to withdraw both applications from the agents was submitted on 3rd August – covering both the Planning Permission in Principle (16/05454/PPP) & the consent for demolition in a conservation area (16/05455/CON).

A brief communication from Edinburgh Council’s Planning Dept. after a request from an Inverleith Ward Councillor stated that “The PPP nature of the application made it difficult to resolve some of the issues that arose during the assessment process. It is understood that RBS now intend to market the site and a new detailed planning application is expected in due course. 

This will require the submission of a new PAN (Proposal of Application Notice) and provide the opportunity for further community engagement.”

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Canon Mill : Application Withdrawn for Partial Demolition and Change of Use

The New Town & Broughton Community Council along with 30 others had objected to the planning application lodged late in 2017 to essentially demolish the last remaining building associated with the history of milling along the Water of Leith at 1 -3 Canon Street (17/05967/FUL), albeit with elements of the main facade retained in the proposed new building.

Whilst the building  was not listed (nor provided with the protection afforded by being within a Conservation area), we believed that it had historical significance ; being the last remaining physical vestige of a history of milling in the area which goes back to the 12th century and stretches along the Water of Leith as far as Dean Village.

Although there were a surprising number of comments submitted in support of the proposal, we are heartened to see that this application has been withdrawn by the agent.

Our objection can be viewed in our previous post in January 2018.

We had stated that we objected to the changes sought for this building as we believed that the proposal represented a  more than necessary intervention on the building and imposed a design form that destroyed any architectural linkage with the building’s heritage. We had hoped for  a significantly more sympathetic treatment of the building which may now be forthcoming.

Proposal for Change of Use & Partial Demolition with Retention of Façade at 1 -3 Canon Street

The New Town & Broughton Community Council have assessed the proposal to essentially demolish the last remaining building associated with the history of milling along the water of Leith at 1 -3 Canon Street (17/05967/FUL).  This building (whilst not currently listed nor provided with the protection afforded by being within a Conservation area) has clear historical significance. It is the last remaining physical vestige of a history of milling in the area which goes back to the 12th century and stretches along the Water of Leith as far as the the Dean Village.

Although this particular building on the corner of Canon Street and Eyre Place has suffered through its many changes over the last century, the façade of the main building still provides historic context and continues to add charm to this corner of the city and is cherished by many local residents.

The proposed design, when set amongst the surrounding buildings has a thoroughly unsympathetic presence with regard to height, roofline and materials at the higher storeys – being an unwelcome intruder to this area – a ”cuckoo in the nest”…….  The substitution of the glazed, zinc-clad upper storey for the hipped pantile roof is particularly regretted and in our view, inappropriate.

Given the significant concerns raised by many in the local community, NTBCC have registered their objection to the changes proposed for the building on the corner of Eyre Place / Canon Street – being a more than necessary intervention and furthermore, imposing a design form that destroys any architectural linkage with the building’s heritage. We would have hoped for  a significantly more sympathetic treatment of the building.

Our objection can be viewed here.